Word Wednesday: Further vs Farther

Road

Even though I’m an editor enforcing many grammar rules, I know I don’t know it all.

Case in point: further vs farther.

At a previous job, I allowed the use of “farther” in an ad campaign, thinking it was completely interchangeable with “further.”

Boy, I could not be further mistaken.

The client questioning the wording was a global client, meaning it would’ve been translated into different languages. That was my first real-life introduction into learning that “farther” represents physical distance and “further” means metaphorical distance.

Sally ran farther in the marathon than Sam.

“Don’t dream it; do it. Take your business further.”

Grammar Girl provides a simple trick to remember which ones to use when—”far” refers to physical distance so you’ll always want “farther” when speaking literally.

Beware: This is an AMA-style blog

AMA manual

I’m an editor of medical and pharmaceutical materials. In my industry, the predominant style manual is American Medical Association Manual of Style with the Chicago Manual of Style as a backup. As a result, my writing (and editing) is influenced by the AMA manual. On my blog, you’ll find the following:

  • Lack of punctuation use with certain words (vs, PhD, etc [unless it ends in a sentence])
  • Not defining a person by their condition (cancer patient vs patient with cancer)
  • Use of en dashes when necessary (non–small cell lung cancer)
  • Use of Arabic numerals for 1-9 instead of spelling it out
  • Not using a comma with numerals in the thousands, eg, 1000, 5000, 9999 (ten thousands and on get a comma)
  • Lack of hyphens when using prefixes, such as anti-, co-, over, pre-, post, or under (unless it makes words ambigious or awkward, eg, re-coveranti-abortion

Of course, this is a blog, informal writing, therefore, I’ll deviate from some of those rules at times (healthcare as one word; period after Dr.; a sentence beginning with an Arabic numeral), but for the most part, grammar and punctuation use that seem foreign may actually be intentional.

But all style manuals agree: The word “data” is plural, eg, data are, data were…

Nerve-racking (or wait, is it nerve-wracking?)

woman working girl sitting
Photo by Alexander Dummer on Pexels.com

Nerve-racking vs nerve-wracking is a word I have always messed up. I tend to think that it’s spelled nerve-wracking but it’s actually spelled without the “w.” Think about how nerve-racking it is not to use a W.

Grammar Girl also has a great post on differentiating the two:

The “mental torment” meaning of “rack” in “rack your brain” and “nerve-racking” comes from the idea of the physical torment of stretching bodies on the rack. Those are both spelled R-A-C-K.

 

Grammar Girl also notes the using “wrack” is archaic. “Wrack” is a sister of the word “wreck,” which is in relation to ships. So, unless you want to nerve-ship, use nerve-racking.

Origin of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Something a little different today as we look toward Thanksgiving tomorrow. I want to explore the origin of Thanksgiving and what it means today.

In 1621, the Mayflower pilgrims organized a feast with Native Americans they befriended. This feast is the first known “Thanksgiving” on record. It wasn’t called Thanksgiving by the pilgrims, however. Thanksgiving didn’t become what we know it today until George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving a designated day.

While the colonies initially celebrated Thanksgiving on different days, Thanksgiving didn’t became a national holiday until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln scheduled Thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November. In 1939 during the Great Depression, FDR tried to move the holiday up a week in attempt to generate commercial sales, but the move was met with opposition, which resulted in FDR signing a bill declaring Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November. (Ironically, FDR’s hopes for spurring revenue for retail occur on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.)

The Macy’s parade is another central celebration of Thanksgiving that began in 1924. The parade, according to history.com, brings an in-person audience of 2-3 million people while drawing millions of television viewers.

The US president also traditionally “pardons” a turkey. Pardoning a turkey rescues the bird from being killed and allows it to be sent to a farm for “retirement.” This tradition dates back to the middle of the 20th century.

Modern-day Thanksgiving centers around cooking and expressing gratitude with family and friends. Turkey usually is a central meal piece during the holiday. Leading up to the holiday, many places hold food drives and offer complimentary meals for low-income families and the homeless.

So that’s your enlightening history of Thanksgiving. Enjoy eating your birds and remember to give thanks for what you have.

Word Wednesday: Project Semicolon

Something a little different today. Translating grammar into real life.

Project Semicolon is an organization that was founded by Amy Bleuel to raise awareness about the prevention of suicide. Per the foundation:

Our work is based on the foundation and belief that suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide.

Being someone who has dealt with suicidal thoughts and tendencies since I was 12, Project Semicolon is an organization that is near and dear to my heart.

I searched high and low for other black people who had a semicolon tattooed to their wrist but all I found (TBH) were images of no one but white people. So the picture above is of my wrist. It’s in black and white, but it reflects my skin undertone and quite frankly…me.

But why the semicolon? Why not some other form of punctuation?

Project Semicolon’s tagline is “Your story isn’t over yet.” As I have heard it explained, the reason the semicolon was chosen is because, in grammar, it connects two complete thoughts. It’s sort of a blip in the midst of a sentence. It’s not a period that indicates finality (the end of a sentence), and it’s not a comma (just a pause). The thought that comes before a semicolon can stand on its own. It could be the end. But it’s not. There’s more to the story; there’s more to come.

The semicolon (through Project Semicolon) reminds people around the world that whatever they’re going through is merely an interruption. It could be the end of their life story but it doesn’t have to be. I identify with this thought. So many times I have wanted to end my life. But that semicolon reminds me that all of these tough moments are “blips.” My story isn’t over yet. I don’t have to end it.

Word Wednesday

word wednesday

Today’s word is convalesce. (See last week’s definition of sanatorium.)

Convalesce means “to become healthy and strong again after illness or weakness.”

In a sentence, I suppose the appropriate way to use the word would be to say, “After a bout with the flu, I am convalescing.” I don’t even know if that’s the appropriate conjugation OR spelling for the verb.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

Word Wednesday

word wednesday

Today’s word is sanatorium:

1 : an establishment that provides therapy combined with a regimen (as of diet and exercise) for treatment or rehabilitation
2a : an institution for rest and recuperation (as of convalescents)
2b : an establishment for the treatment of the chronically ill

Sanatorium is a noun, but I can’t figure out a way to use it without referring to definition 2b. I guess rehabs are also considered sanatoriums?